I’ve heard it said that the outcome of any given game comes down to about 4 plays. I’ll do my best to pinpoint those plays from Saturday night’s 8-3 win over the Houston Astros.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) Pushing Their Luck — Justin Grimm made his Major League debut in this game and Jordan Schafer welcomed him to the big leagues with a lead-off single. Two batters later, Schafer tried to steal 2nd, but was thrown out. It was bad timing for the Astros, as Jed Lowrie deposited the very next pitch over the wall for a solo shot, rather than a 2-run homerun.
2) Shrug It Off — Whatever nervousness Grimm had in him seemed to evaporate after the HR. Rather than falling to pieces, he came right after Brett Wallace, striking him out to end the inning. It was the start of a good night for the young pitcher.
3) We’ll Call It a Miscue — The Rangers trailed 3-0 going into the bottom of the 6th, but Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler would single on back-to-back pitches to start the inning. An ill-advised bunt attempt would move them both into scoring position and Michael Young stepped to the plate. The first pitch that Young saw was chopped right back to the pitcher. Gentry, who had broken for the plate, would have been a sure out if not for a fumble by the catcher. Texas wouldn’t waste the gifted opportunity, scoring 5 runs in the inning and taking the lead for the rest of the night.
4) A Dangerous Dance — Houston came into the 8th down by 4 runs and Mike Adams seemed determined to make a game of it. He gave up two singles to start the inning, got two outs, and then hit Wallace to load the bases. Chris Johnson came to the plate, representing the tying run, but Adams was able to work out of his own jam by inducing a harmless ground ball to 3rd. Crisis averted.
Random Observation, Apropos of Nothing — Tonight’s game was nationally televised on Fox, so Dick Stockton was the play-by-play guy. I don’t personally know anything about Stockton, except that he gets way overexcited about every ball hit into the air. It’s as if he can’t at all tell the difference between a lazy fly ball and something hit into the upper porch.
It reminded me a lot of Dave Barnett in his early days with the Rangers. Barnett occasionally still falls into the trap of thinking that pop flies are homeruns and vice versa, but he’s nowhere near as bad as he once was.
Also of note…
- Grimm was impressive tonight, to say the least. He went 6 innings, gave up 3 runs on 6 hits, struck out 7 and walked none. He kept his composure, never seeming to get rattled or overwhelmed. He was pulled after having thrown only 88 pitches, but the coaching staff probably wanted to end his debut on a high note. For whatever it’s worth, he did get the win.
- Robbie Ross pitched a perfect 7th, Adams had his adventures in the 8th, and Mark Lowe allowed only a hit in the 9th. Twas an all around good night for Ranger pitching.
- I mentioned the ill-advised bunt attempt in the 6th. Officially, Elvis Andrus was credited with a sac bunt, but I doubt any big league manager would call such a play with no out and a 3-run deficit. Honestly, I think Andrus was getting a little too cute. I’d rather see him swing away, given how well he’s been driving the ball of late.
- Adrian Beltre drove in the first 2 runs with a single, Nelson Cruz capped off the 6th with a 3-run HR. Texas would add 2 insurance runs in the 7th and another in the 8th. Maybe, just maybe, this offense is starting to click again.
- Both teams wore their 1986 throwback uniforms tonight. I always like throwbacks and wouldn’t mind seeing a regular rotation of them. Maybe once or twice a year, just to shake things up.
- The season series between the Rangers and Astros is now 4-1, with the final game being played tomorrow. That means Texas wins the “prestigious” Silver Boot yet again. Given that Houston is moving to the AL next season, this would be a great time to huck the Boot into a dumpster or set it ablaze.
It’s a meaningless trophy that was designed to manufacture a rivalry that never blossomed. It’s a sham that nobody cares about, a relic from the Tom Hicks Era. It’s never going to be a thing, so let’s end its miserable existence here. It’s the right thing to do.
Texas goes for the sweep tomorrow at 2:05 Arlington time on FSSW. Colby Lewis will take the hill.
Press on, Rangers fans.